Real estate frequently changes hands, but generally not through theft. It seems illogical that someone could steal a house.
However, there is one way that this happens. It is called deed fraud or home title theft. It involves stealing the house by changing the paperwork declaring who owns that house.
Ways that this may happen
There are a few different ways this could occur, starting with the fact that someone could simply forge another person’s name on a deed or a title, thereby transferring it into their own name. This scam is often perpetrated against those who have passed away. The scammer may watch the obituaries to see when someone in the area has passed away and to discover where they were living. They will then attempt to steal this house, knowing that the owner is not there and that everything may be more complicated for the heirs.
This also sometimes happens in financial schemes where it appears to be a refinancing measure. What they don’t tell you is that you’re not agreeing to a new loan or a new mortgage. You’re actually signing paperwork that transfers ownership of your house into someone else’s name. They may do this in the process of getting you a new loan, but they have no intention of paying that loan. You could lose ownership of your house or they could simply take the money from that refinancing and leave the home to be foreclosed on by the lender.
How can you protect yourself?
If you’re worried about these types of legal and financial issues in a home transaction, the best way to protect yourself is to understand exactly what legal steps you need to take.